We are a few hours away from free agency for the Bills and as usual, Twitter is throwing out possible/fantasy names for the Bills to sign. Vincent Jackson! Mario Williams! Robert Meachem! Dallas Clark! Marques Colston! How awesome would it be if the Bills signed some of those guys? Picture Vincent Jackson and Stevie Johnson as your 1A and 1B targets. How about Mario Williams rushing the passer? What about Carlos Rogers as your #1 corner? Wouldn’t it be fun? How many season tickets would be sold? How many jerseys would be purchased? How many Bills cliches/players would be trending on Twitter? Billieve? Fitzmagic? VJ/SJ connection? Tuffalo foursome? Wouldn’t it be a nice dream? Alas, it would only be a dream.
It would be nice if we lived in a NFL city where dreaming for the best players coming here was a reality. Instead, we are excited about Scot Chandler re-signing. It is harsh, but it is the truth. We can’t live in a world of fantasy with the Bills. We can do it with the Sabres to a certain extent, but not with the football team. For crap sacks, the Cardinals, yes, THE FRICKEN CARDINALS, who were a franchise joke for almost all of my life and have won 3 more games than the Bills have over the last 2 years, can dream about #18 coming there, but we can’t.
That’s where we are on the totem pole for desirable destinations.
You think Ralph Wilson is going to spend 45 million guaranteed on Mario Williams? Give me a break.
I’ve spent months praying for the Bills to re-sign Stevie. Everyone had wanted him back for a simple peace of mind. Just show us something. Show us that you love us. That’s all we want. Maybe this sounds like I’m just looking for something to bitch about since #13 stayed put, but a part of me thinks that re-signing him wouldn’t be met with a life/death scenario in other cities. We are just so desperate for competence from the Bills. We want something to believe in. Hell, it’s their damn slogan. Billllllieve. I acted like the sanity of the Bills psyche would be at a crossroads if they didn’t extend Fitz. They did and now we have a guy coming off a 24 interception year. Yes, I get the injured ribs factor, but do you ever sit there and think that we are just asking for so very little when in other cities, teams are demanding Peyton Manning?
I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but I just don’t see the Bills being big time players. I know Buddy said they would, but the Bills idea of being players is equivalent to Screech Powers having a love triangle with Tori Spelling and some other nerd from Saved by the Bell. In other words, their idea of being players may be different from mine, yours, Big Punisher and Bill Bellamy. Since 2004, the Bills have signed only 3 free agents who have made 5-million dollars or more a year (Owens, Walker and Dockery). I know fans want to believe that Buddy is the difference in all of this and he will place some sort of magic spell over Ralph and the bean counters to open the vaults, but I just don’t buy it.
Plus, Nix’s game plan has always been about the draft. Even in San Diego, AJ Smith and Nix never seemed to sign high priced free agents. Those teams were built around the draft and they would just re-sign there own. Sound familiar, Bills fans?
Nick Barnett and Shawne Merriman can tweet all they want to Vincent Jackson and Mario Williams. They can have strippers goto their homes and present a big fat cake that says “Come to Buffalo!” or #FollowFriday their asses until they have the Bills Mafia stalking them for retweets, but it all lies in the hands of Ralph Wilson. He’s the main recruiter. Him and his money.
I’ve always thought that Ralph is in a different world when it comes to what players make these days. I remember the interview Wilson gave three years ago about being cheap. The money quote was when he said that people who called him cheap, are looking down the wrong street. He then cited the Owens signing as his smoking gun for why he wasn’t guilty. Sorry Ralph, but you forgot to mention that you traded Jason Peters because you didn’t want to pay him. Then you cut Dockery and Walker and replaced their lucrative deals with rookie contracts. I’m sure I could find more evidence, but I’m sure you already know what exhibit A through Z are by now.
Even through my GM series, which I don’t think was that big of a fantasy world to live in, I seriously doubted the Bills would sign Laurent Robinson for 6-million bucks and add another 8-million with Osi Umenyiora. That was all fun and games for me. Realistically, it will never happen here. There is no other evidence to dispute that take. Yes, they have spent 60 million in guaranteed money, which seems like a lot, but when you compare them to other teams (IE: Cowboys and Jets), it doesn’t even come close. It seems like a lot for Bills fans because we are use to 5-year, 25 million dollar deals as the gold standard around One Bills Drive, but in comparison to other teams? I’m not moved.
Sure, they may fly in some guys and talk to them. But I’ve seen my fair share of Stanford Routt or Tyson Clabo or Mike Shanahan, use their frequent flyer miles to raise their stock for other teams and get that cheap interview with the local press about how awesome the team facility is and how the Bills have a 1st class organization. Seriously? Has anyone ever visited the Bills and said that the toilets weren’t working properly or didn’t have a state of the art treadmill? Also, I’m not buying into the whole “Well, at least the Bills are trying to sign guys. It is not their fault that player X went somewhere else.” Bull. Sometimes, I feel they fly these people in, just so fans can say “at least they are trying.” I know, I’m cynic. Sue me. Get the job done because fans have given them too many passes for trying. Money talks is all I’m saying.
Right or wrong, free agency isn’t going to change this team because it is not something management dives into all that much. It is fun to dream about, but if I were you, I’d expect status quo, which is a tweak here and there. They may sign the 7th best WR out there or an OT we have never heard of. Hey, maybe it is better that we don’t overspend. Free agency doesn’t normally equal wins (Just ask the Sabres and Redskins). I know, you don’t want to hear that.
Look, I hope I’m just as wrong as the rapture coming to destroy the world. If I am, I’ll be writing an apology to Ralph. Yes, I will break out the feather pen and use a scroll to write an apology. However, I just don’t see it.
I’ll leave you with a nicer note and tell you that it is not the end of the world if my prediction comes true. As I’ve said since day 1, the Bills best bet to turn this sinking ship around is by drafting studs. The jury is still out about Nix’s drafts in Buffalo. If you go by logic of the draft being the game changer for the franchise, 2013 is the realistic year for playoffs. Four years is what it took for San Diego to turn it around with Nix/Smith. I wish it was different. Free agency can be fun, especially when you are looking for something to grab onto for hope. Unfortunately, George Steinbrenner or Reggie Jackson aren’t walking through those doors anytime soon.
Instead, it will probably be Josh Morgan and Wallace Gilberry. WHO??? Exactly.